Fly tipping story in Saturday’s paper

This is the story I am most proud of so far as I found it myself and it resulted in the council being booted into action.

It was in Saturday’s Argus with a byline and I went with the photographer to see the evidence and get the photos.



Car crashes into Hove basement
March 1, 2012, 7:06 pm
Filed under: Work experience pieces | Tags: , , , ,

Week two of work experience at The Argus is going well.  I went out of the office for stories twice today and enjoyed the sunshine.  The first trip was to see why a car had crashed into a Hove basement and I filmed the car being pulled from the side of a building.

You can watch the video here: http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/9564663.Video__Car_crashes_into_Hove_basement/

I’ve also been pursuing a story on fly tipping.  I had to go on quite a walk from the bus stop into the woods to get the details but it was well worth it.

Watch this space for the story.

Two page leads in The Argus today

As my first week at The Argus comes to a close I have had quite a few panels in the paper.  I am pleased today to have two bylined page leads which are stories I found myself.

The first one was a response to this week’s Cancer Research figures that 160,000 children aged 11-15 start smoking every year.  I investigated this for Brighton and Hove and found the shocking figures in a big NHS health report that children as young as 9 were lighting up.

Here’s my story: http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/9552995.Nine_year_olds_regularly_smoking_in_Brighton_and_Hove/

The second one I found online by conducting various searches of Brighton online and on Twitter.  This led me to the Brighton Society website where I found that the organisation had appealed for a street name change.  I looked into this and spoke to the council and the ward Councillor to find out how much this would cost and what they thought.

Enjoy:  http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/9552949.Laine_or_lane__Brighton_street_name_controversy/

Also the best news of the day is that a double page spread I have worked on is eligible for my PA feature for my portfolio.

So let’s hear it for the weekend, woop woo!

Ten top tips for journalism work experience
February 22, 2012, 8:25 pm
Filed under: Journalism | Tags: , , , , ,

I am doing work experience at The Argus in Brighton at the moment.  It’s my third work experience since my NCTJ finished in December and I am loving it.  I’m working on lots of my own stories and trying to find new leads all the time.  Shorthand has been invaluable to me when I’ve gone to court and when I’ve interviewed people.

Here’s my top tips for work experience on a local paper.

1) Go in there with at least three story ideas a day, minimum.  Otherwise you’ll be stuck re-writing press releases and hardly get anything for your portfolio.

2) Be creative with where you look for stories, think outside the box. Ask your friends.  Follow up every potential lead.  Utilise Facebook and Twitter to search for stories and ask questions.

3) Be confident.  You might feel like you’re in the way but you have to get through that and make yourself known.  If you have your own story ideas, ask the news editor or another reporter whether they think your ideas would make a good story.  Ask to sit in on conference.  Introduce yourself to everyone.  Remember their names.

4) If you don’t know ask.  Ask questions and listen to the answer so you don’t have to ask again.  Write it down so you don’t forget.

5) Take opportunities.  If another reporter is going to court, ask if you can go with them.  Listen out for news editors looking for someone to take a story and you may end up going to court on your own and getting a cracking piece for your portfolio.  Always answer the phone at every opportunity.  Smile when you talk and be confident and get the details right.

6) Get a copy of the style guide and use it before you ask silly questions.  If in doubt, look for an example in a recent copy of the paper.  For example: do they say Maureen Fisher, aged 50 or Maureen Fisher, 50, it’s quick and easy to find a story that will give you the answer.

7) It may sound obvious, but read the publication.  Get a feel for what stories they are doing at the moment and how you could develop those stories.  Even if the reporters are following something up, you can always ask the news editor if you can check your news nose is working by running past them what you think are the important follow ups.

8) Look at national press every day and think how a national figure or story can be localised.  The news team will be able to help you with advice on who to contact for local figures and statistics.

9) Ask for feedback.  Look at how your stories are tweaked and learn from it.  Write down everything you learn and take note of how they make any changes for house style.  If in doubt, ask for an explanation.

10) Smile, be polite and make tea.  It’s important to get your face known so make sure it’s for the right reasons.

Work experience at Radio 1’s Newsbeat
January 26, 2012, 10:20 pm
Filed under: Journalism | Tags: , , , ,

I was lucky enough to have a day at the BBC this week and it taught me a lot about the wonder that is broadcast journalism.  Although I have little experience on the broadcast side of things, the day was very helpful in thinking of interaction, audience and multimedia.

My day started at what seemed to be the crack of dawn, and it was the first time I have been out of the house, before a glimpse of daylight, in a long while.  I made my way to broadcasting house, taking time on the tube to digest as much of a free newspaper as humanly possible, with an eye full of sleepy dust and a tummy lacking breakfast.

I was pleased that I was early but my heart sank when I had arrived at the wrong BBC.  A panicked taxi journey dispelled the belief that London taxis are expensive, as it was £3 to find the right BBC, but then again she did just drive me round the block.

The working day at Newsbeat begins for most at just before 8am, although there are journalists and production staff who work all through the night.  When I arrived I met the editor and duty editor and had a look through all the nationals to come up with some story ideas relevant to a Radio 1 audience.

What I liked about the news process was that about 20 staff were all part of an ideas meeting first thing – this was the chance to determine what news stories would be used that day and in what order.  Everyone was asked to contribute and one tip I would say to anyone going on work experience is come with loads of ideas and don’t be afraid to voice them.  You have nothing to lose.

A good way to approach it is to ask the editor or news editor wherever you go, if they have a moment to have a look through your ideas, say that you are sure they probably have them already, but you want to test your news radar is working.

The great thing about this meeting is that the editor and duty editor provoked lively discussion, asking questions such as: “How is that relevant to a 19-year-old hairdresser down in Devon?” and “How can we make it relevant to her?”

Following the meeting, one of the reporters gave me a tour of the building.  As we went through to where Chris Moyles and the team were broadcasting live to millions of people Dan told me: “Be cool.  If you see any celebrities don’t stare.”

Of course, I pretended I was cool, but I was actually really excited.  The sound of radio 1 is pumped out all over the building, including the toilets, so to watch Chris Moyles live and animated was pretty exciting.  I shook hands with Dom and said hi to all the production people, still pretending to be cool, while my eyes darted about for a trace of Fearne Cotton.  Oh, and I was standing in the Live Lounge at this point, still trying to keep cool.  Breakfast is a key time for radio.

Then I saw JD from Scrubs but thankfully the lift doors were shutting so I just had to focus.  It was then straight into the entertainment meeting with Nesta, who you can hear everyday on Radio 1.  They decided who was going to go and meet up with certain celebrities and then got on with their stuff.

Everyone has their passport to hand at Newsbeat as the BBC covers such worldwide news that you have to be willing to drop everything and get on a train or plane.  I wouldn’t mind that at all.

The duty editor showed me the BBC system that allows all the different BBC programs to communicate and make sure they aren’t each sending a reporter to the same thing.  There’s a place where you can look at all the scripts for the radio and TV and future planning of features etc.

While I was talking to online and suggesting a couple of story ideas, Fearne Cotton came on air, with guest Dermot O’Leary.  At this point it was my time to go into the news studio with the news presenter and sit there while he spoke to Fearne and did the news.  It was just me and him in the news studio and I wore headphones.  As soon as his voice came through the headphones I suddenly recognised his voice and then got a bit giddy as I was sitting near so many switches and had a massive microphone the size of my head, in front of my face.

I then spent some time with planning.  The news reporters get to spend time on planning which is the dept that is a bit like the features desk of a newspaper or magazine.  They make sure there’s a feature for each news program and sometimes do a whole program on a topical subject.  For example the day before they did a massive feature on PIP implants as 150 listeners had texted in, voicing concerns.  It was really interesting and the planning editor was great and really helpful.  He used to work on NME and I have work experience coming up there (if I don’t get a job first) so a very useful contact to have.

It was then back in the studio with the 1Extra news team, speaking to Trevor Nelson.  The production staff plan in all the sounds and mix all the sound clips into the live broadcast and they make it look easy even though it’s very skilled and complicated.

I was there for a while and was shown how they have sound beds categorised as up, medium and serious, so they can fit in with the news story.

The great thing about Newsbeat is the network of the BBC can cross-network radio listeners, tv viewers and web visitors to BBC.co.uk and the newsbeat site to each other.  Then, there is interaction on Facebook, Twitter and text messages.  Broadcast journalism is fun.  And everyone at the BBC is unbelievably down-to-earth.

When I walked out the building, I wondered why all these paps were waiting for me, then I realised, after a dreamy split-second, that they were waiting for Fearne.  Silly me.

Later on the afternoon I was lucky enough to be showed around the BBC newsroom at the BBC TV centre by the planning editor from Newsbeat.  It’s unbelievably vast and really buzzy.  But again, I pretended I was laid back and cool.  I managed to ruin my cool facade by mentioning: “I’ve been here before – about 12 years ago, when I was gunged on Live and Kicking.”

On the train home I wondered if the phrase ‘Becky Barnes from the BBC’ would ever be a reality.

Articles in the paper today

Here are the articles written by me in today’s Western Morning News.

This is the picture lead on the front page, with my headline: http://www.thisiscornwall.co.uk/Fossil-hunter-campaigns-dinosaur-dig/story-14995143-detail/story.html




Work experience on a local weekly newspaper after a fast-track NCTJ journalism course

I’m about to finish my first work experience placement after my NCTJ course in Brighton.  I finished the course on the Thursday then on the Monday I was sitting at the news desk with my pad full of story ideas.

It was good to get stuck in so quickly and I have been very lucky to have worked with a small and friendly team, where the editor and all the staff make tea for the whole news desk.  (I expected that to be my job!)

I’ve done work experience before but it was completely different now that I understand media law and the structure of local government (well just about.)

I spent my first day in court and here’s the stories I scraped from the barrel that day….enjoy! (It was nice to sit at the press desk as opposed to the public gallery.)

P.S. In other news, I have got access to This Festival Feeling to fulfill my recent role as news editor so daily news stories have been going up for a few days and will continue to do so.

19/12/11 – Story 1:

A Parkinson’s sufferer who smashed into the back of a police officer’s car was fined £48 and given six penalty points for careless driving.

Anthony Patrick Lea, 49, of New Ruttington Lane, Canterbury pleaded guilty to the July 22 incident at Canterbury Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

Julie Farbace, prosecuting, said Mr Lea hit the vehicle when it was behind a bus stopping at a bus stop.

The emergency services were called but there were no serious injuries.

In a letter to the courts Mr Lea said: “I didn’t mean to have an accident.

“I apologise for my actions and to the officer who got injured.”

Mr Lea has since stopped driving on the advice of his doctor but has retained his licence.

19/12/11 – Story 2:

A man on licence for possessing thousands of pounds worth of drugs was ordered to pay £85 costs for two charges at Canterbury Magistrates’ Court on Monday, December 19.

Ahab Halim, 35, of Downderry Road, Bromley pleaded guilty to having 13.6g cannabis resin and 10.27g cannabis with intent to supply.

Julie Farbace, prosecuting, said Mr Halim was seen on a bicycle with no lights by two police officers in Herne Bay High Street at 11.30pm on March 17.

He beckoned to them and when they smelt cannabis, he admitted possession of the Class B drug worth £150 and said he had sold £40 of the drug that night.

Anton Walden, defending, said Mr Halim had “left his old life behind” and was reconciled with his partner and nine-year-old daughter.

The charges were made before he received his current sentence and since then he had taken on the role of house-husband.

Mr Halim received a 12 month conditional discharge with £85 costs as the magistrates recognised “a change in home circumstances and attempts to turn your life around.”

More to follow!